As much as I love having basil growing in my garden right outside my front door, it's been a little bit of a struggle to maintain. It began with the hundreds of millions of raindrops that happened to fall the week after I planted. And the fact that I didn't know that I needed to poke holes in the bottom of my outdoor flower pots... maybe I should have done some more research before starting an above-ground garden? Anyways... all of my herb and flower pots flooded from all of the rain and I had to replant my entire garden. So, I got a bit of a late start you might say. The next issue was that I hadn't realized how often pots need to be watered! I'm used to gardening in the ground where the soil doesn't dry out so easily. It may not seem like such a task to water every day- and it's really not- but our hose doesn't work, so I had to wait until we went through enough gallon ice cream containers to use those as my watering buckets in order to make the process efficient. I literally carry 8 buckets of water out every day and throw one on each pot. And I'm sure the plants would still appreciate even more! Once I figured out the watering protocol, the basil went wild! I had to thin it probably four times because it was inhibiting it's own growth. Which is really bittersweet: exciting because my basil was growing, but disappointing because I wish that I had just had room to spread the seeds out in the first place! But finally, after droughts and tangled roots, my basil was finally ready for pesto- the real culmination of summer gardening and cooking. My mom and I wait the whole summer for the moment that the basil is ready for pesto. This year I wasn't home for us to make it together, but coincidentally, we both happened to make it last weekend- just 350 miles apart. I think that proves that it's the perfect time to make pesto:)

sweet basil pesto

1 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup pine nuts
4 large garlic cloves
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups very tightly packed basil leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Toast the pine nuts over medium-low heat until they begin to brown and a nutty aroma develops. Make sure to move them around fairly often so they don't burn. This should take about 4-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, using the grater attachment of your food processor, grate the Parmesan. Remove the shredded cheese from the processor.

When the pine nuts are done, add them and the garlic cloves to the food processor and pulse to a fine grain.

Then add the oil and pulse to combine. Next add the basil leaves. I didn't bother washing mine since I know exactly what went on them- just water. But, if you've bought them from a non-organic vendor, definitely wash the leaves first. Try your best to pat them dry with a paper towel though because you don't want the water to dilute your pesto! Pulse to a paste.

Then add the Parmesan, salt, and lemon juice. Pulse again to your desired consistency.

If the pesto is too thick for your preferences, add more olive oil. If it is too thin, add more basil leaves. Adjust salt to taste. This recipe made about 1 1/2 small mason jars of pesto. Less than I would hope for the summer, but unfortunately I think that's all I'm going to get out of my basil crop this year.

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